Lightroom Features I Love: Create Virtual Copy

It’s been a while since I have shared some of my favorite Lightroom features. Lightroom is such a powerful tool and it completely changed everything about my photography and editing. It makes editing faster, easier, and more fun.

And as a non-destructive editor, it helps protect your photos!


As artists, we love to play around with photos. We often like to try different editing techniques on our photos. Well, Lightroom has a great feature built right in! It keeps our photos safe while we play!

Let’s say I am in Lightroom and I am editing this picture:

I’ve edited it in color, but I want to see what it looks like black and white. Or, maybe I want both versions (which is usually the case when I am editing for clients).

It’s easy. Lightroom is a non-destructive editor (it keeps instructions for each photo rather than changing the photo itself). If I want to keep a second (or third, fourth, or fifth) set of instructions so I can have different versions of my photo, I simply have to right click on the photo in filmstrip at the bottom of the screen. Then I select create virtual copy.

Selecting that option creates a second and identical photo in the filmstrip. I can play as much as I like, even creating more and more copies. My original photo is safe (as always) and I get to have multiple versions. The nice thing is, though, I don’t have to time up hard drive space with actual versions of the photo…just separate instruction files. In the filmstrip, you will see a curling page icon at the bottom left of the thumbnail, as well as a 2 of 2 marking, indicating this is a virtual copy.

Now I can have a black and white and version.

If I play around and decide I don’t like it, it’s easy to get rid of. Just right click the thumbnail again and choose remove photo.

Oh Lightroom, how I love thee!

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